A team of young researchers from Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have won a national competition for environmental entrepreneurs.
The Environment YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) – sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council – is an innovative way of raising commercial awareness among postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists.
Teams are allowed to assume a technical breakthrough in an environmentally related technology, on which to base their new business. However, the rest of the business plan must be based on reality, which means real market research and real costs. The team must then pitch their theoretical business plan to a group of ‘investors’ to raise the necessary finance to start up their business.
This year’s team undertook three days of intensive training in Oxford. During this they presented a business plan based on a novel conductive polymer, enabling high efficiency low cost solar cells to be produced for home electricity generation.
The team was presented with a cash prize and a trophy following the final of Environment YES’s sister competition, Biotechnology YES in London on 3rd December.
Team member Stephanie Sdepanian, a PhD Student based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said: "The competition has been a great opportunity to further understand the possible applications of environmental research within the business sector and the means by which resulting technologies can be used to benefit the wider public. It has been a steep, exciting and highly informative learning curve, that we would not have had the chance to experience otherwise."
Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) are linked through the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC). LEC brings together around 400 researchers at Lancaster who are working to address many of the major environmental challenges of the 21st century, especially those related to environmental change, sustainable management of resources (water, energy), chemicals management, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystem function.
More information about LEC can be found here